Advance and prospectus of seasonal prediction: Assessment of the APCC/ CliPAS 14-model ensemble retrospective seasonal prediction (1980-2004)

Bin Wang, June Yi Lee, In Sik Kang, J. Shukla, C. K. Park, A. Kumar, J. Schemm, S. Cocke, J. S. Kug, J. J. Luo, T. Zhou, B. Wang, X. Fu, W. T. Yun, O. Alves, E. K. Jin, J. Kinter, B. Kirtman, T. Krishnamurti, N. C. LauW. Lau, P. Liu, P. Pegion, T. Rosati, S. Schubert, W. Stern, M. Suarez, T. Yamagata

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363 Scopus citations


We assessed current status of multi-model ensemble (MME) deterministic and probabilistic seasonal prediction based on 25-year (1980-2004) retrospective forecasts performed by 14 climate model systems (7 one-tier and 7 two-tier systems) that participate in the Climate Prediction and its Application to Society (CliPAS) project sponsored by the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Climate Center (APCC). We also evaluated seven DEMETER models' MME for the period of 1981-2001 for comparison. Based on the assessment, future direction for improvement of seasonal prediction is discussed. We found that two measures of probabilistic forecast skill, the Brier Skill Score (BSS) and Area under the Relative Operating Characteristic curve (AROC), display similar spatial patterns as those represented by temporal correlation coefficient (TCC) score of deterministic MME forecast. A TCC score of 0.6 corresponds approximately to a BSS of 0.1 and an AROC of 0.7 and beyond these critical threshold values, they are almost linearly correlated. The MME method is demonstrated to be a valuable approach for reducing errors and quantifying forecast uncertainty due to model formulation. The MME prediction skill is substantially better than the averaged skill of all individual models. For instance, the TCC score of CliPAS one-tier MME forecast of Niño 3.4 index at a 6-month lead initiated from 1 May is 0.77, which is significantly higher than the corresponding averaged skill of seven individual coupled models (0.63). The MME made by using 14 coupled models from both DEMETER and CliPAS shows an even higher TCC score of 0.87. Effectiveness of MME depends on the averaged skill of individual models and their mutual independency. For probabilistic forecast the CliPAS MME gains considerable skill from increased forecast reliability as the number of model being used increases; the forecast resolution also increases for 2 m temperature but slightly decreases for precipitation. Equatorial Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies are primary sources of atmospheric climate variability worldwide. The MME 1-month lead hindcast can predict, with high fidelity, the spatial-temporal structures of the first two leading empirical orthogonal modes of the equatorial SST anomalies for both boreal summer (JJA) and winter (DJF), which account for about 80-90% of the total variance. The major bias is a westward shift of SST anomaly between the dateline and 120°E, which may potentially degrade global teleconnection associated with it. The TCC score for SST predictions over the equatorial eastern Indian Ocean reaches about 0.68 with a 6-month lead forecast. However, the TCC score for Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index drops below 0.40 at a 3-month lead for both the May and November initial conditions due to the prediction barriers across July, and January, respectively. The MME prediction skills are well correlated with the amplitude of Niño 3.4 SST variation. The forecasts for 2 m air temperature are better in El Niño years than in La Niña years. The precipitation and circulation are predicted better in ENSO-decaying JJA than in ENSO-developing JJA. There is virtually no skill in ENSO-neutral years. Continuing improvement of the one-tier climate model's slow coupled dynamics in reproducing realistic amplitude, spatial patterns, and temporal evolution of ENSO cycle is a key for long-lead seasonal forecast. Forecast of monsoon precipitation remains a major challenge. The seasonal rainfall predictions over land and during local summer have little skill, especially over tropical Africa. The differences in forecast skills over land areas between the CliPAS and DEMETER MMEs indicate potentials for further improvement of prediction over land. There is an urgent need to assess impacts of land surface initialization on the skill of seasonal and monthly forecast using a multi-model framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-117
Number of pages25
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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